Loose Lips Sink Ships - Negative Self-Talk
Especially if they are engaged in Negative Self-Talk.
Hmmmm. It all starts from childhood and our parents. Doesn’t it always? YES!
Research has told us that a young child, in the first 3 years of life, has heard the word NO more often than any other word or phrase.
Although crying is a child's primary means of communication at birth, language immediately begins to develop via repetition and imitation.
During their second year of life No is one of the first words spoken by many children. Surprising? Not really. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Following on from this is often the admonition, “You can’t do that.” or “That is too hard for you”, or “Wait until Daddy comes home, he’ll help you with that.” Just as children learn the word NO, and in fact ALL words by repetition, so too they learn conditions and limitations on life in general, and their lives in particular.
If children learn words and concepts by imitating others (particularly parents) and this learning is often predominantly negative (as it tends to be as a protection method for very young people) then, is it really a surprise that this negativity becomes part of their lives? And is it a stretch to imagine that this negativity can shape these lives? And by extension – our lives, since we were those children some years ago.
We are programmed from an early age to doubt our ability. Usually with the best of intentions, but, nevertheless, we are/were conditioned.
Is it any wonder that as adults when faced with something outside our circle of competence – a learning experience if you will, we shie away and say, ”I’m not very good with computers.” or whatever. You know what I mean.
Negative Self-talk is killing us. And it’s not even doing it slowly.
A Task for you
I challenge you over the next week to LISTEN to your self-talk and notice the number of times you:
- Put yourself down,
- said you are not good at, or can’t do something,
- berated yourself for a mistake – over and over
- said, “I should not have tried that” or “I should have left that for ????”,
- defered a task to someone else for no good reason,
- asked for help with something without even thinking, about whether you can do it, and
- started a whole historical rant to yourself about the number of times you have failed over the years gone by, and extrapolating that to the number of times you WILL fail again in the future.
That, my friend, is negative self-talk, and just as the beginnings of this were programmed into you as a young child, you are now perpetuating the programming process. Or extending it. Or even, worst of all, beginning a whole new programming cycle.
And you are right. You will fail. Wasn’t it Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.”?
I know a lot of people will tell you that affirmations (which are in effect positive self-talk) are just so much bullshit. But are they really?
If we learned to speak by hearing words spoken over and over again, what has changed? Are we suddenly some kind of alien alternative being because we are no longer a child? Don’t the same rules of learning still apply? Didn’t we learn by hearing something repeated over and over? I know. I’ve purposefully repeated myself. Glad you noticed.
What if it’s not your mum or dad telling you that you can’t do something, or saying no, but you? Yourself, in your own voice, in your own head telling yourself over and over how crap you are at remembering names, for example? Will you not LEARN to BE crap at remembering names?
If that works why can’t the opposite work? Positive affirmations?
Positive Self Talk - Affirmations
Begin telling yourself you are FANTASTIC at remembering names, AND – this is a must – begin a new game to associate names of people with a particular feature of their body (not clothing or jewellery, or hair for women, as they can change).
As adults we DO need a bit more of a push. Just repeating a positive mantra doesn’t work as well now for us, with all the other things taking over our minds.
I mean learning to communicate was what a baby or young child did most of the 24 hours in every day (apart from eating and pooing of course, certainly not much sleeping). And all it’s other needs were, in general, handled by its parents, so easy peasy.
We, on the other hand, have to take action to make the mantra stick.
Say the affirmation daily; and add a game to it. For example.
“I am FANTASTIC at remembering names.” (Affirmation, present or future tense.)
“Hi, Bill Jones.” or whatever. Use the name, at the same time thinking to yourself. “I see a Bald Bill Jones.” or something like that. (Action.)
We learned to talk and walk and probably everything else in our universe by repetition. Most often verbal repetition. So it will still work. With a little bit of help!
Say the words (affirmation). Do that thing (take action). Make the behavioural changes.
Learn how to do tasks on a computer. Remember names. YOU CAN DO IT.
Cease and Desist
STOP THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK. IT WILL SABOTAGE EVERYTHING.
It will teach you what it repeats. Almost every time you will – be; do; have whatever you are espousing in your head. Change the record. Just Do It!
Loose lips sink people. Especially if these lips are engaged in Negative Self-Talk.